New bill to give $10.6 million to crawfish farmers

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 7:38 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Protecting the Louisiana crawfish industry from overseas producers - that’s the goal of Senator Bill Cassidy’s proposal that includes more than $10 million for crawfish producers. We spoke to a crawfish farmer about how this bill would impact him, and others in the state.

“We produce a lot of pounds of crawfish every year, right here in southwest Louisiana that should be used instead of foreign competitors,” John Carbalan said.

Carbalan’s crawfish farm services a large part of east Texas, along with a growing area across Louisiana.

“We’d like to protect that from people from other countries trying to produce a product with questionable labor and standards that we have to abide by, and they don’t. Then they come in and dump that on our markets,” he said.

Those dumping practices are when foreign producers export to the U.S. below the cost of production. Senator Cassidy said it is causing Louisiana crawfish producers to close up shop.

Carbalan noticed an increase in Chinese imported crawfish, but it may not be as clear to consumers.

“Some of them are even named ‘Louisiana Roll’ or something to do with Louisiana, but if you ever ask the people who are working in the restaurants and prepare the meals, the crawfish is all Chinese crawfish,” Carbalan said.

A federal law in place instructs customs and border protection to disperse interest collected from Chinese imports to American agricultural producers. But, Cassidy claims administrative delays have prevented that from happening. Now, he’s introducing a new bill: the China Trade Cheating Restitution Act. This would direct customs to pay nearly $40 million to businesses injured by Chinese trade practices. $10.6 million will go to crawfish producers.

Carbalan said this money would be a huge help, especially with the increase in prices due to supply chain issues.

“We really hope for the help because a lot of us need it because everything is very, very tight and doesn’t look too good right now,” he said.

In a release about the bill, Cassidy said, “Crawfish is part of our culture in Louisiana, and we will defend it. China is attempting to put our crawfish farmers out of business by dumping their product in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production. This is against the law. This legislation gives American farmers the resources they need to stay competitive and thrive.”

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